Can you travel to Scotland? Covid-19 Update [June 2021]

can you travel to scotland update

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Updated when anything changes. Last updated: June 16, 2021.

A question I am asked almost every day is when can you travel to Scotland?

I know that the latest information from official sources can be hard to digest and it often raises more questions- so I have done the hard work for you and trawled the internet to present you with the most up-to-date information in an easily digestible way.

Please note information can change daily, and the most up-to-date information will always be on the Scottish Government and NHS websites. I have provided links to the official sources below. Be sure to check your own government travel advisories for updated information too.

This article is intended for overseas visitors planning a trip to Scotland but there is information that locals will find useful. There is also helpful information here for those who need to get to Scotland for essential purposes [such as visiting a sick relative, moving home or for other personal reasons].

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If you spot any errors in this post, please leave a comment at the bottom of this article and I’ll amend it. If you have any questions, please ask these in the comments too and I can update this post.

Latest Information

Update: 16/06/2021:

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister, has announced it is unlikely that Scotland will move to Level 0 on June 28th. She said it was likely that we will stay in our current levels for a further 3 weeks from this date. She will confirm this in an update the week starting June 21.

There is no word on a USA/UK travel corridor yet.

Update 9/6/2021:

Many regions in Scotland are now at Level 1 (see my level summaries later in this blog post) while others are at Level 2. Some islands are at Level 0.

Regions in Level 0: Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands.

Regions in Level 1: Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyl and Bute (some islands are at Level 0), Dumfries and Galloway, East Lothian, Falkirk, Fife, Highlands, Inverclyde, Moray, Perth and Kinross, Scottish Borders, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian.

Regions in Level 2: Edinburgh, Clackmannanshire, Dundee City, North, East, and South Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Midlothian, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Stirling.

Covid-19 rates are going down in Scotland and the rest of the UK. This is most likely due to the vaccine rollout and the current strict lockdown. Currently, Over 72% of the adult population have had their first dose of a vaccine in Scotland, and at least 46% have had their second dose. Those in their 20s and 30s are now being called up to have their first vaccination.

SCOTLAND RESOURCES

On a budget? Grab my Scotland Bucket List Planner

Organising a big trip? Grab my Ultimate Scotland Planner

Want to tick off all the must-sees? Grab my Must-See Scotland Essential Travel Planners

Have a question about travelling around Scotland? Join my Facebook groups Scotland Travel Tips and Scotland Travel Tips for Locals

Love podcasts? Listen to my Scotland podcast Life in Scotland

Want more Scotland? Join my exclusive Scotland community Secrets of Scotland to unlock bonus content

The current situation in Scotland: What’s open and what’s closed

If you’re curious about what the current situation is in Scotland, I’ve summarized the main points. There is a mixture of information for locals and those planning a trip. This section will be updated regularly as things change.

What’s open

  • The ‘stay local’ rule has been lifted and residents in Scotland can travel throughout the country
  • Parks and gardens are open for local exercise
  • Shops
  • Pubs and restaurants (with restrictions in place, closing early etc)
  • Accommodation
  • Tours and attractions
  • Gyms

Arriving in the UK

  • Everyone who arrives in Scotland must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 36 hours before arriving in Scotland.
  • Passengers arriving in Scotland from a Red zone have to pay £1,750 to quarantine in a room at one of six designated hotels. It’s £650 for an additional adult or a child over 12, and £325 for a child aged 5 to 12.
  • Passengers arriving in Scotland from an Amber zone must self-isolate for 10 days and produce two negative covid tests. Passengers will have to have two covid tests on day two and day eight. These need to be pre-booked before you arrive in the UK or you may face a £500 fine.
  • Being vaccinated does not change the rules.

Current rules while in Scotland

Remember the FACTS: wear a face covering, avoid crowded places, clean your hands regularly, maintain two metre social distancing at all times, self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.

The 5-tier system

Scotland has 5 Protection Levels [or tiers] to help control the virus. Each area in Scotland is allocated a different tier depending on the prevalence of the virus across Scotland. You can see what tier each area in Scotland is in here.

Here’s a brief overview of each tier:

Level 4 – Lockdown

Level 4 is essentially a lockdown order to stay at home. For stay at home guidance, click here.

  • Accommodation is closed for tourism and only open for essential travel
  • Restaurants are takeaway only
  • No in-home socialising
  • No use of public transport except for essential travel
  • Visitor attractions closed
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise

Level 3 – Very High

  • Travel throughout Scotland is allowed as long as the region you are visiting is Level 3 or lower
  • Accommodation open
  • Pubs and restaurants allowed to open until 8pm indoors [no alcohol] and 10pm outdoors [alcohol permitted]
  • 4 people from up to 2 households can meet indoors at a restaurant/cafe
  • 6 people max can meet outdoors from 3 households
  • Visitor attractions including museums, galleries and libraries open with safety measures in place
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise
  • Gyms can open
  • Non-essential shopping can open
  • Funerals can take place with up to 50 people [no alcohol]

Level 2 – High [Some regions in Scotland are at this level]

  • Accommodation open
  • Pubs and restaurants open but must close at 10pm outdoors and 10.30pm indoors [alcohol permitted]
  • 4 people from up to 2 households can meet indoors at home
  • Visitor attractions including museums, galleries and libraries open with safety measures in place
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise
  • Non-essential shopping open
  • Cinemas, amusement arcades and bingo halls can open
  • Outdoor contact sport and indoor exercise classes can restart

Level 1 – Medium [Some regions in Scotland are at this level]

  • Accommodation open
  • Pubs and restaurants open but must close at 11pm
  • 6 people from up to 3 households can meet indoors at a restaurant/cafe and at home
  • 8 people max can meet outdoors from 3 households
  • Visitor attractions/shopping open with safety measures in place
  • Parks and gardens open for exercise
  • Indoor non-contact sport can take place

Level 0 – Nearly Normal [Some islands are at this level]

  • The government will reassess this level closer to the time, but it’s expected this level will contain as much normality as possible
  • Possibility of office staff returning to work

My personal take on when Scotland will be open for tourism

After watching the covid19 situation in Scotland for the past several months, it sounds as though Scotland may return to normal by the end of summer!

Most of mainland Scotland has moved down to level 1-2, which means we can now socialise indoors [in limited numbers] and travel within the UK. Mostly everything is open, but some places, such as pubs and restaurants, still have to close early.

The government have introduced a red, amber and green system. Red = no travel, amber = travel isn’t advised, or emergency-only travel, green = go for it. You still have to produce a negative covid test before flying- each country has its own set of rules so check those before you fly.

I get asked frequently when can folk from the USA visit Scotland- the short answer is I don’t know when this will happen, but I know there is a lot of pressure being put on both governments right now to establish a travel corridor. I have a feeling this may happen in late June/July if things continue to progress well. Don’t take this as gospel- it’s just my guess based on how things are going right now.

I feel more confident that a USA/UK travel corridor will commence during autumn/fall. You may still need to quarantine on arrival- but as soon as something is announced I’ll update this post!

Tips

  • When making NEW bookings for accommodation and tours, be sure to check their cancellation policy. Booking.com has a flexible 24-hour cancellation policy, but be sure to double-check each property before making a booking.
  • If you have existing bookings, check your cancellation policies for each activity, write down the deadlines and stick them on your fridge so you don’t forget to cancel or extend and lose your money.
  • When travel does open up again, be sure to book ahead of your visit. A lot of businesses will not accept walk-ins. If you have a pay a deposit, make sure you know their refund policy.
  • To see a graph on the current number of Covid-19 in Scotland, just Google ”Covid 19 in Scotland” and a graph will come up with the daily

Websites for up-to-date information

Scottish Government website: The first place to check is the Coronavirus in Scotland page.

NHS [National Health Service]: For up to date information on what to do if you are in Scotland and have symptoms or need to book a test, visit the NHS website.

News: For the latest news in Scotland, I recommend following the BBC.

Visit Scotland: Visit Scotland also has a page with helpful information and updates on the Covid-19 situation in Scotland.

How you can experience Scotland from home

  • Read my blog! There are tons of free articles on this website about Scotland that will help you with planning your dream trip, or to simply keep Scotland in you mind. This really helps me as a small business struggling to get through Covid!
  • Read these books about Scotland. One of the best forms of escapism is through a book! I made a list of my favourite books about Scotland- these should keep you going for a while.
  • Re-watch Outlander. I know I am!
  • Test your knowledge with my Scotland Quiz! You can even use it to host your own Zoom quiz night with your pals.
  • Start planning your trip early so when travel opens up, you’re ready to book! My Scotland travel planners will help you plan your perfect trip.

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ABOUT YVETTE

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Hello, I’m Yvette and I’m from New Zealand. In 2016 I left home to travel the world; I met my husband after hiking the length of Scotland, and now we live in a wee Scottish village with our pup, Angus. I’m a full-time blogger and travel Scotland for a living! Read more about me here.

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